When India’s World Cup campaign began, they had no need for Mohammed Shami in their first choice XI. India already had Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s swingers and Jasprit Bumrah’s slingers, you see, supported by two high-quality wrist spinners.
It is a distillation of India’s bowling prowess that, since Kumar’s foot injury elevated Shami from wearing a bib on the sidelines to taking the new ball, he has now taken eight for 56. At Old Trafford, he followed up his hat-trick to deny Afghanistan victory last Saturday with this incisive new ball spell which set India on the road to an almost ludicrously facile victory over the West Indies, who are now eliminated.
For all the hype over the West Indies’s pace attack, India’s defence of their 268 for seven was built upon the excellence of their own fast bowlers.
Shami’s four wickets and Bumrah’s two were married with parsimony. Their combined figures - 12.2 overs, six for 25 - were more in keeping with late 19th century games than what we had been told to expect in this World Cup.
Bumrah is an extraordinary product of the IPL age, his yorker and sheer variety of deliveries indispensable in all three phases of the game. Shami’s style is less demonstrative, his qualities easier to ignore. But his muscular action generates good pace, his command of line and length is remorseless and there is ample new ball swing too, as in a delivery that jagged back between Shai Hope’s bat and front pad.